Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Working it out

Sometimes I take to scribbling down thoughts into this space, and I find myself snatching at thoughts but coming away with smoke between my fingers: a sign that I should probably be doing this more often.

I am a member of a writing group, the third such since I started treating all of this seriously some five or so years ago. I don't attend meetings very often, but my lack of productivity has little to do with my truancy. The other day though, I found myself spending time with the group's founder, but for personal reasons. He seemed to need friendly company, and I decided a long time ago that if a person wants to be a certain kind of individual, they must do the kinds of things that individual would do. I like to think that I'd be there for people, and it wasn't even too awkward that I, he of the low group attendance, would be there for him for non-writerly company. I went without knowing how long I'd be out, and some 8 hours later, I found myself at a different writer's group meeting, one that he invited me along for. The next day I swatted at foggy recollections of how my day turned out so unexpectedly.

On that note, I reflect how strange it is that things work out the way that they do. I met a new person, a new person who seemed more than excited to read and review my writing, all because I was trying to be there for someone else. I don't think that's how things works; that's too neat and tidy. I do think that things can work that way, sometimes, though. I think that's the reason for the slot machine ideology. A person just keeps pulling the lever, they keep themselves open, they keep working, they keep believing, and then one day, the machine they've glued themselves to starting making all kinds of noise, and paying dividends. Nothing has happened with the reading or reviewing so far, but I guess I can try to remember to update that.

Also, at the impromptu meeting, we discussed stories we're working on. I went through a premise for my latest science fiction offering. I don't know if it did very much for me to talk about it, to answer questions about the plot, to expose it to the light of day by giving voice to it. It's very early, and I realized that I try not to do that, but only after the fact. Even still, it hasn't curled up and died in my mind, not yet. I'll probably still write it. I will definitely be writing something, because the story came about because I had to confront my behavior, of submitting short stories to magazines, getting rejected, then giving up on that story. No matter how confident I felt about it when I wrote it, it would just take a single and hasty rejection for me to lose all confidence in it. This time I'm not going to do that. This time I'm going to believe in my work, despite the ridiculous nature of the submission process, the skewed perspectives and slush pile mentality and small-minded editors. This time, my aim is to submit the story to several places, back to back, to stand in the lobby of the building until they throw me out. Maybe had I been bigger about this in the beginning, I'd be further along now.

So I've been examining my short comings in general lately. It's a work filled with sighs. Chapter 16 has been completed to some satisfaction, and I am very disappointed that it's taken me this long to get this far. I suppose it could be that the story is just that good, but I'd be lying to myself. I think it's good. I don't think it's great. Moreover, the extra time I've been spending on it has not made it that much better. And right around the corner is more submissions, for novels, for grad school. I've always believed that things will get in the way of writing, if we let them. But now I also think that all the pushing and shoving accrues a kind of fatigue. Maybe, if things are equitable, this will all also make me stronger.